WYD Lisbon 2023

The WYD Stations of the Cross: Taking the risk of loving and walking with Jesus

The Holy Father's words, testimonies and the Stations of the Way of the Cross at Parque Eduardo VII


The Pope's second encounter with the approximately 800,000 young World Youth Day pilgrims gathered in Lisbon's Parque Eduardo VII for the Stations of the Cross was an intense and emotional moment. Accompanied by a very well-executed choreography by the Local Organizing Committee (COL) of Lisbon, the Stations of the way of sorrows unfolded in an imaginary Calvary with young people who, carrying the Cross, continually fell to then get back up just as occurs in life. “Today we are going to journey with Jesus along the path of his suffering, along the path of our worries, the path of our loneliness” said Pope Francis before beginning, inviting each person to offer his or her own suffering in prayer: “Now, in a further moment of silence, let each of us think about our own sufferings, our own worries, our own weaknesses. Do not be afraid, just think about them. And think of the desire our souls have to shine once more”.

In between the stations we heard the testimonies of Caleb, 29, from the United States, who struggled with depression, self-harm and drug addiction until his encounter with Christ enabled him to take control of his life without falling back into old habits and allowed him to meet his wife. Then, Esther, a 34-year-old Spanish woman in a wheelchair after a car accident, who decided with her current husband Nacho to terminate her first pregnancy and who now, after the Lord took her by the hand, is mother to a 4-year-old girl. Finally, João, a 23-year-old Portuguese, bullied and suffering from mental health problems after the lockdown and the pandemic, who through faith now has the strength to get back up after each fall.

At each Station, the young people meditated on what concerns them most: wars, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, religious persecution for minorities, exploitation of natural resources, migration due to inhumane situations, violence in marriages and in relationships, abuse, bullying, anxiety, depression, lack of consideration for the elderly. Then there is the difficulty to love and the inability to act to achieve a model of perfection imposed by the perfect smiles of selfies and the "likes" of others. Finally, the fear of falling into addiction to drugs, pornography and alcohol. "We are unable to make decisions, nor do we see the direction in which history might continue," they testify, "we see only the path blocked by great obstacles before us."

Pope Francis' invitation, in conclusion, was clear and powerful: “Jesus dries our hidden tears with his tenderness. Jesus wishes to relieve our loneliness with his closeness. Moments of loneliness are sad indeed, yet Jesus is there; he wants to relieve that loneliness. Jesus wishes to calm our fears, your fears, my fears; he wants to calm those deep fears with his consolation. He also desires to encourage us to embrace the risk of loving.  Indeed, you know it well, better than I do, that to love is risky. We must take the risk of loving. Yet, though it is a risk, it is a risk worth taking, and Jesus accompanies us as we do. He always accompanies us, always walks with us. Throughout our lives, he is always by our side”.

05 August 2023
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